Categories
Books Reviews

Queens of the Wyrd

Queens of the Wyrd

Author: Timandra Whitecastle  Genre: Adult Fantasy   Publisher: Self-Published

Raise your shield. Defend your sisters. Prepare for battle

Half-giant Lovis and her Shieldmaiden warband were once among the fiercest warriors in Midgard. But those days are long past and now Lovis just wants to provide a safe home for herself and her daughter – that is, until her former shield-sister Solveig shows up on her doorstep with shattering news.

Solveig’s warrior daughter is trapped on the Plains of Vigrid in a siege gone ugly. Desperate to rescue her, Sol is trying to get the old warband back together again. But their glory days are a distant memory. The Shieldmaidens are Shieldmothers now, entangled in domestic obligations and ancient rivalries.

But family is everything, and Lovis was never more at home than at her shield-sisters’ side. Their road won’t be easy: old debts must be paid, wrongs must be righted, and the Nornir are always pulling on loose threads, leaving the Shieldmaidens facing the end of all Nine Realms. Ragnarok is coming, and if the Shieldmaidens can’t stop it, Lovis will lose everyone she loves…

Fate is inexorable. Wyrd bith ful araed.

Queens of the Wyrd is the brand-new epic Norse fantasy adventure by Timandra Whitecastle.
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So, I loveeeeeed this book. I had wanted to read something by Tim for a while, because her books seemed so fascinating and I’d heard so many good things, but after reading this book, I definitely know I want to read her works for the rest of time. If you enjoyed Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames (and everyone knows that’s one of my favorite books of all time), then this book is right up your alley. Find out why below:

Likes

  • The characters. This is always a big thing for me. The book can be the most beautifully written book in the world, but if I don’t get emotionally connected (whether that’s loving or hating) to the characters, it’s hard for me to stay invested. For Queens, this was super easy to do. I LOVED Lovis and Birke is just too wholesome for this world. As we slowly begin to meet the rest of the Shieldmothers, not only did I love each one in turn, but I loved how unique each one was, as well, and how distinct they were.
  • The focus on motherhood. So many books in fantasy either a) never include mothers to begin with, b) leave them as background characters or c) act like it’s impossible for a mother to also be a warrior or an adventurer or what have you. I love, love, LOVE that this novel takes all of those ideas and throws them in the bin. It makes me want to explore motherhood more in my own novels and I just appreciated the care that was taken with this.
  • The adventure. I love a good adventure story and this had that, for sure! I loved how much we got to explore (especially in a certain area where a certain Spring Maiden lives) and how it all came together at the end. I also loved how it seemed to have everything: from the quest to great banter to heartfelt tender moments to laugh-out-loud humorous moments to punches right in your groin surprises.
  • The strong writing. I think I read the first 100 pages without pausing or realizing that I had gotten so far into the novel? It just read that smoothly.

Dislikes

  • I…really can’t come up with any. That it ended? That I don’t get to read book two immediately?
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Rating

I just loved this book so much (can you tell that yet?). I HIGHLY recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy, who wants to see motherhood explored in a new way, who enjoys a novel that blends well heart and humor and hurt, and who enjoys Norse mythology.

I rate this book 5 gems out of 5!

Cheers.

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Categories
Books Reviews

The Heroes of Spira Double Review

The Crosser’s Maze and The Greatwood Portal

Author: Dorian Hart  Genre: Adult Fantasy   Publisher: Self-Published

**Special thanks to the author the gifted copies**

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It’s been a while since I’ve written a review, so you get a bonus double review in this post (also, it’s been a while since I’ve finished these and have been behind on getting reviews written, so this review is more general likes and dislikes between both books instead of more specific praise and critiques, since I didn’t get to write these reviews as soon as I usually do; thanks, mind-numbing peak period during my day job!).

Likes

  • The characters. Like I mentioned with the first book, I love how distinct each of the characters is and their character growth has been impressive, to say the least! It’s been a joy to see that growth as they are faced with challenge after challenge; see the group dynamic shift and strengthen, especially as we get introduced to new characters. Definitely the strongest bit of this series, I think!
  • The intentionality of the plot: That sounds confusing, but there are a lot of different threads going on in this quest to stop an ancient evil from escaping and destroying the world, so it sets up an expectation that these threads are going to be acted upon and come together and they do, which you just love to see. You can definitely see the care put into this plot!
  • Use of POV: What was a weakness in the first book for me actually became a strength in the latter two books, as quests began to be tied to certain characters, getting them more screen time than others. This kind of structure requires some patience, if you have a favorite character (and I bet you will!) who might not have as much “POV page time” as you want, but I think it’s handled really well.
  • A certain romance: I’m so here for it!!

Dislikes

  • Beginning of The Greatwood Portal. It took me a little bit to get into the beginning of the third book, because it felt like the first third was less action-focus and more waiting for things they’ve done already (or have been warned about approaching) to come to fruition. However, once things started happening, I read through the rest of the book in one sitting, so…🤷‍♀️
  • The constant waiting: Something that has frustrated me a bit with the series is how much the wizards continually make our characters wait for information or have to be vague. I completely understand why this happens (hell, our characters are also frustrated, so it’s not like I’m alone or this isn’t acknowledged), but it did become a little frustrating by the third book. This could also be because I read all three books back-to-back.
  • Another certain death (and sorta death of another character?): How dare you.
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Rating

I continue to enjoy this series and am very thankful I don’t have to wait to read the fourth book, since I have the pleasure to work on it! The following is the rating for both books:

I rate this book 4 gems out of 5!

Cheers.

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Reviews

Video Games I’m Excited For!

Hello, lovelies!

It’s been a while since I’ve written about video games–and, if you know me, you know that’s my main hobby and one of my favorite things to do, so I wanted to take a moment today to write about some of the games I’m super excited for, considering that we’ve entered the holiday season of gaming; one that’s extra special this year, since the PS5 is dropping tomorrow (alas, I haven’t been able to snag a pre-order, but hopefully soonish?). So, here are the games I’m excited for, that either dropped very recently or are coming out soon (mostly)!

Destiny 2: Beyond Light

This new expansion came out yesterday and my boyfriend, one of our best friends and I played it last night. Needless to say, I’m pretty stoked. Although, I do have a pretty complicated relationship with the Destiny franchise. I hate how unclear the story has been and how you truly have to grind to get some stuff. Yet, at the same time, it’s a game I’ve continually come back to and had a blast with, and this new expansion looks really fun, so it’s safe to say that I still love the series. I’m excited to continue to explore the new worlds and use this game as my game-to-play-in-between other games.

Destiny 2: Beyond Light begins a new era for the MMO shooter September 22 |  VentureBeat

Apex: Season 7

Apex has been my latest obsession over the past year. I’ve never really been a battle royale player, but I tried it on a whim and got hooked. I absolutely love it. It’s really fun and I love the characters (not to mention how diverse they are, which is my favorite and something I want to continue to see in gaming) and their quirks. While I don’t like how some of the events force you to buy cosmetics instead of also giving you an option to earn them in-game, Season 7 dropped last week and it’s been super fun playing on a new map and playing as Horizon, our newest legend.

When will Apex Legends season 7 end? | Dot Esports

Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla

This is arguably the game I am most excited for. Since it dropped yesterday, you might be surprised that I haven’t bought it and have already put in double digit hours into it. But honestly, I knew if I did, I’d not stop playing it until I beat it, because I absolutely loved Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey and have been having fun playing Assassin’s Creed: Origins lately, so getting to play the latest Assassin’s Creed game in the Viking era is my JAM. Knowing this game is going to be my favorite of the three in this arguably new AC style, but also knowing Apex and Destiny were launching new content at the same time, I knew I couldn’t get this game yet, because I wouldn’t play the other two, which I play with my partner and I wanted to play with him. So, I figured I’d wait a little bit (also for some time off I have slated in December) and then I’ll dive in.

Ubisoft apologizes for ableist language in Assassin's Creed Valhalla | PC  Gamer

Watch Dogs: Legion

This is another game that’s already come out, but I haven’t gotten yet. Just the concept of being able to play literally anyone as you recruit and build your team to take back London is super intriguing to me. I didn’t play the previous Watch Dogs game and I don’t think I’m necessarily interested in that one, because the other reason I really want to play this is because it’s set in London, the city of my heart. I feel like I’ll spend more time trying to find landmarks and places I’ve visited and loved than actually completing what I’m supposed to, but…eh, whatever. It’s a game I’ll prolly not buy for a while, since I’m much more excited for all the other games on this list, but I’m still curious about it.

Watch Dogs: Legion' Might Change the World of NPCs Forever | PCMag

Cyberpunk 2077

Ah, the game that I’ve been excited about forever, yet continually alludes the desired release date. I say that with a bit of snark, but honestly, I’m not bummed about it. I want the developers to be comfortable with the game they are releasing and I’d rather it be delayed (even multiple times) so they get it right, instead of it being buggy as all get out and unplayable upon release (that’s actually an entirely different discussion I hope to write about on the blog at some point, but I digress). My boyfriend is super, super excited for this game, so I mostly want it to come out and be amazing for him. But, I’m also excited to play it, as I love cyberpunk!

CD Projekt Red Confirms December Release Date For Cyberpunk 2077 - Gameranx

Deathloop

This game just looks so bloody interesting. I’m a pretty big fan of Bethesda and what they put out, so I’m excited to play this game, even if I don’t fully understand it quite yet.

Bethesda's DeathLoop launch postponed until Q2 2021! - The Indian Wire

Outriders

Honestly, this might be one of the top games I’m excited to come out next year (obviously not knowing a ton of games coming out next year yet, but still). I have been playing a lot of Destiny and Apex this year, which are both great games and franchises, but they also aren’t the bread and butter that drew me into gaming in the first place: the RPG. Outriders looks like an incredible game that will allow me to go back to my roots and just truly enjoy losing myself into a game again, and for that, I’m absolutely stoked.

OUTRIDERS System Requirements 2020 - Test your PC 🎮

Horizon Forbidden West

And while we don’t have a release date yet, we DO know this game not only exists, but looks positiviely stunning and I am so, so, SO excited to go back and play Aloy and continue to explore this amazing world and story. Horizon: Zero Dawn was one of my favorite games ever and I was floored by the story, loved the graphics, was fascinated by Aloy and cannot wait to replay it in anticipation of it’s sequel. If you’re a gamer, this is a franchise you absolutely CANNOT miss.

A Closer Look at Horizon Forbidden West - EssentiallySports

Dragon Age 4

So, I know we aren’t even close to a release for this game yet, but the teaser we got with a trailer and the fact they are working on it for sure was enough to make me literally cry. Talk about top franchises and Dragon Age is absolutely one of them. From the amazing worlds to the characters who grew to feel like family to the amazing romances and the way the choices compound atop one another to HOW TRESPASSER FUCKING ENDED, I have needed the 4th installment in the Dragon Age universe for years.

The Art Of Dragon Age 4 - Concept Art and Making Of

Mass Effect: Legendary Edition

My other top franchise has also come from BioWare and finally–fucking finally–it was announced last Saturday during N7 Day that we’re getting a remaster of the amazing Mass Effect trilogy. For the franchise that had me bawling my eyes out at 2am after I beat Mass Effect 3, you’d better bet that when this drops, I’ll be buying this and playing it all over again. Hold on, Garrus baby, I’m coming! (Plus, the fact they announced they are also working on a new game in the Mass Effect franchise has me HYPE).

Mass Effect Legendary Edition is announced for 2021 - Somag News

What about you? Are you a gamer and, if so, do any of these games excite you? What are some of your favorites? What are you looking forward to? Do you plan to upgrade your console, if you play on PS or Xbox this holiday season? Let me know in the comments, because I always love talking games with people!

Categories
Books Reviews

The Ventifact Colossus

The Ventifact Colossus

Author: Dorian Hart  Genre: Adult Fantasy   Publisher: Self-Published

Banished to an otherworldly prison for centuries, the monstrous Emperor Naradawk is about to break free and wreak havoc upon the world of Spira. The archmage Abernathy can no longer keep the monster at bay, and has summoned a collection of would-be heroes to help set things right.

Surely he made a mistake. These *can’t* be the right people.

Dranko is priest-turned-pickpocket, expelled from his church for his antics. Kibilhathur is a painfully shy craftsman who speaks to stones. Aravia is a wizard’s apprentice whose intellect is eclipsed only by her arrogance. Ernest is a terrified baker’s son. Morningstar is a priestess forbidden from daylight. Tor is a young nobleman with attention issues. Ysabel is an elderly farm woman. Grey Wolf is a hard-bitten mercenary.

None of them are qualified to save the world, but they’ll have to do. Even Abernathy himself seems uncertain as to why he chose them.

What starts with a simple scouting mission soon spirals into something more far-reaching and sinister. The heroes will contest with dream warriors, evil cultists, sentient gemstones, and a devious yet infuriatingly polite gentleman with a perfect mustache, on their way to a desperate encounter with the unstoppable: The Ventifact Colossus.

The Ventifact Colossus is Book One of the Heroes of Spira.

**Special thanks to the author for a copy as a gift.**

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So, this book was on my radar before, thanks to my friend Caitlin’s positive review, so I knew it was a book I wanted to read at some point. I’m a sucker for adventure stories and I love a band of misfits having to come together to complete a quest, so I was definitely intrigued by this. When the author reached out to me for editorial services for the fourth book–which would, in turn, of course require the reading of the first three books–it seemed a little bit like destiny!

Likes

  • The premise. Like I mentioned above, I was already sold by the premise of the novel and the plot and characters supported it well!
  • The characters. I love how each character is distinct and unique and we continue to get to know all of them. I definitely have my favorites and those I am super curious about and I’m excited to see how the group grows in the continuing novels!
  • How POV influenced and showed off strong writing. The writing itself is very good and of high quality, which I always enjoy in a novel. But I also loved how we got to see everyone’s POV–and, not only that, but it was awesome how you really did get a feel of each characters’ chapter and how one chapter could even influence me enough to change opinions on things and characters, based on how a character viewed another, which I thought was cool!

Dislikes

  • A certain death. I am all about killing your darlings, but I just can’t get over a certain death. I LOVED this character and I was really excited to see what tropes were going to be broken with their involvement, since you usually don’t see this kind of character in this quest setting, so when they were killed, I was a bit disappointed. Especially since, like some of the characters themselves, I don’t see the point of their death (purposefully vague due to spoilers, obvi).
  • POV balancing. With a quest of 7 (8? I can’t count honestly) companions who all are POV characters, it’s hard to balance POV, because that’s a lot! Especially for a first book. And while I can definitely see some of our major players over minor players, I do wish we saw some perspectives more than others, so this is just a minor preference things, honestly.
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Rating

This was just a really enjoyable book. I just had a lot of fun reading it and I would definitely recommend it to any fantasy fans who want to see some traditional tropes played out and twisted on their heads!

I rate this book 4 gems out of 5!

Cheers.

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Categories
Books Reviews

Quests and Quandaries

Quests and Quandaries

Author: Alda Yuan  Genre: Fantasy   Publisher: Self-Published

Blurb: The Floating Isles were created millions of years ago when a beetle the size of a continent churned up mud from the seabed for a perch. And things have only gotten weirder since. This is a tongue in cheek account of a princess forced to go on a quest, very much against her will. With the proverbial band of sidekicks at her side, Rahni leaves the familiar comforts of home for the mysterious Eigen States, a place where, of course, nothing is as it seems. Or else it wouldn’t be much of a quest. Rahni is determined not to let the laws of the land dictate anything, least of all how seriously she has to take the whole matter. Her dearest wish is to get through the quest with as few near scrapes and mortal enemies as possible. If she has to go on a quest, she wants it to be bland, with no nonsense about holding the fate of the world in her hands. Naturally, nothing goes quite as she plans. But what else is new?

Trigger Warnings: Sexism, violence

**Special thanks to the author for a copy in exchange for an honest review**

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Likes

  • The tradition. I really love a good adventure story, with the traditional quest and the band of heroes going to save the day. Is it overdone? Some can argue that point, but I just can’t help but love that plot structure. I loved it even more that it was twisted, in the sense that Rahni wasn’t a chosen one, destined to go on this quest, but instead, it was a sort of right-of-passage that everyone in her family has to overcome, at some point. I liked that uniqueness of it.
  • The subversion. I also liked that there are a lot of traditional fantasy tropes presented here (good versus evil, the damsel in distress, the hero, the quest, the chosen one), but many of them are twisted on their heads and called out for being misogynistic, for example. It was a fun way to incorporate traditional tropes without feeling overdone.

Dislikes

  • The lack of subtlety. It’s weird for this book, as what I enjoyed about it also pairs with something that I didn’t like it about it. While I really enjoyed the subversion of traditional tropes, it was very obvious about it–to the point that the characters themselves would call it out, almost breaking the fourth wall. Some readers might not mind this, but I would have preferred a little more subtlety in how this was presented.
  • The almost-slapstick humor. Again, I think other readers might enjoy this more than me, but the humor, which was a heavy element, felt almost slapstick, at times, which is usually hit-or-miss for me. Unfortunately, in this instance, while I did find it funny sometimes, most often, I wasn’t enjoying it as much.
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Rating

I thought Quest and Quandaries (which, I can’t get over the alliteration in the title, which carries out over the series; I love it) was a fine read, but it wasn’t something I fell in love with completely. I really enjoyed the idea, but the execution was lacking for me. As such, I rated this book 2.5 gems out of 5, rounding up to 3 stars on Goodreads. It’s a series I think many who enjoy this kind of humor will enjoy, but for me, I will not be continuing the series.

I rate this book 2.5 gems out of 5!

Cheers.

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Books Guest Posts/Blog Tours Reviews

The Ikessar Falcon

The Ikessar Falcon

Author: K.S. Villoso  Genre: Adult Fantasy   Publisher: Orbit Books, September 24th, 2020

The Bitch Queen returns in The Ikessar Falcon, the action-packed sequel to K. S. Villoso’s acclaimed fantasy debut, The Wolf of Oren-Yaro.

Abandoned by her people, Queen Talyien’s quest takes a turn for the worse as she stumbles upon a plot deeper and more sinister than she could have ever imagined, one that will displace her king and see her son dead. The road home beckons, strewn with a tangled web of deceit and unimaginable horrors – creatures from the dark, mad dragons and men with hearts hungry for power.

To save her land, Talyien must confront the myth others have built around her: Warlord Yeshin’s daughter, symbol of peace, warrior and queen and everything she could never be.

The price for failure is steep. Her friends are few. And a nation carved by a murderer can only be destined for war.

Author Info:

K.S. Villoso was born in a dank hospital on an afternoon in Albay, Philippines, and things have generally been okay since then. After spending most of her childhood in a slum area in Taguig (where she dodged death-defying traffic, ate questionable food, and fell into open-pit sewers more often than one ought to), she and her family immigrated to Vancouver, Canada, where they spent the better part of two decades trying to chase the North American Dream. She is now living amidst the forest and mountains with her family, children, and dogs in Anmore, BC.

Author website — https://www.ksvilloso.com/ 
Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/kayvilloso 
Goodreads — https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/11740784.K_S_Villoso 
Instagram — https://www.instagram.com/ksvilloso/ 
Twitter — https://twitter.com/k_villoso 

**Special thanks to Caffeine Books Tours and Orbit Books for the ARC in exchange for an honest review**

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It has been such an honor to participate in the blog tour for The Ilkessar Falcon, the sequel to The Wolf of Oren-Yaro, hosted by Caffeine Book Tours! While I enjoyed the first book in the series, this book absolutely blew me away. The hype is real and this series is one you should be supporting and biting at the chance to read it (especially since so much of what I enjoyed in the first book–the worldbuilding, the characterization, the TENSION, is continued and elevated even further, here). So, let’s get down to it!

Likes

  • TENSION. I thought the first book did an amazing job of increasing the tension and constantly making you more worried about what is going to happen next. After reading this, it almost feels like child’s play, for The Ikessar Falcon pulls back on no punches. In fact, it’s almost as if you’re expecting a punch and instead, you get a sword rammed through your core. It’s shocking, it’s painful and yet, just when you think it can’t get any worse? Hello pain, my old friend. Masterclass in tension, honestly.
  • The shock value. I’m not the best at predicting what is going to happen next, even during the obvious moments. But, even if I had such a talent, I don’t think I would have felt that way in terms of the plot of this story. I’m being vague to avoid spoilers, but there is a specific moment towards the end of the first act that had me shaken. And that wasn’t the only time, either.
  • The intricacy. I love not only how delicious (and not just because of the amazing inclusion of food details; something I loved from the first book and that continues here!) and intense the plot develops, but how even the most minute and seemingly innocent details and hints are brought back into focus and actually have importance to the main narrative. There is a certain ship-bearing character who we learn has a very interesting proposition who I remember distinctly from a story Tali spoke of from her youth that I wondered would pop back up again, despite believing it to be story meant to simply show some of the beginnings of Tali and Rai’s relationship. But, wow was I wrong and whoa did it come back with a bang. But it’s that kind of intricacy that takes this novel to the next level.
  • The character development. With how well-written the characters were from the first book, it isn’t surprising that I formed distinct opinions of them. And yet, as the characters grew and we spent more time with them, I found some of those opinions shifting, while others solidified. My respect for Tali raised, as well as Nor. Khine will forever have my heart–and continue to break it. Lo Bahn surprised me, in good ways. Rai…remains complicated (which is surprising, given the level of hatred I had for him at the end of Oren-Yaro) and a character-who-cannot-be-named disgusts me as much as I have to be impressed by their schemes. Oh, and I dislike Agos. Quite a bit. I don’t think I’m meant to, necessarily, but…oops?

You are all alike—Ikessar hens and Oren-yaro dogs with your empty words and your empty smiles and your meaningless tenets, dragging this land down, bringing us all to ruin.”

Dislikes

  • Nothing. I honestly cannot think of a single thing. This book takes off with a bang and doesn’t slow down. The writing itself is fantastic, the characters fleshed out and put in the worst situations, the plot is shocking and intense, I mean…what more can you want from a novel?
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Rating

So, no surprise that I rated this 5 out of 5 stars. Some authors worry about suffering from second-book syndrome or worry how the sequel to the start of the series might be perceived, but Villoso has no reason to. I loved this book even more than I did the first and it’s most likely going down as one of my favorite reads this year.

Thank you so much again to Caffeine Tours for the opportunity to join on the blog tour! Don’t forget to check out the rest of the tour and to purchase yourself a copy of this book, when it comes out on the 22nd!

Amazon — https://amzn.to/30mmCRC 
B&N — https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-ikessar-falcon-ks-villoso/1128717569?ean=9780316532716
Book Depository — https://www.bookdepository.com/Ikessar-Falcon-K-S-Villoso/9780356514499
IndieBound — https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780316532716
Goodreads — https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35661274-the-ikessar-falcon

I rate this book 5 gems out of 5!

Cheers.

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Categories
Books Reviews

The Wolf of Oren-Yaro

The Wolf of Oren-Yaro

Author: K.S. Villoso  Genre: Fantasy   Publisher: Orbit Books

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A queen of a divided land must unite her people, even if they hate her, even if it means stopping a ruin that she helped create. A debut epic fantasy from an exciting new voice.

“I murdered a man and made my husband leave the night before they crowned me.”

Born under the crumbling towers of Oren-yaro, Queen Talyien was the shining jewel and legacy of the bloody War of the Wolves that nearly tore her nation apart. Her upcoming marriage to the son of her father’s rival heralds peaceful days to come.

But his sudden departure before their reign begins fractures the kingdom beyond repair.

Years later, Talyien receives a message, urging her to attend a meeting across the sea. It’s meant to be an effort at reconciliation, but an assassination attempt leaves the queen stranded and desperate to survive in a dangerous land. With no idea who she can trust, she’s on her own as she struggles to fight her way home.

Trigger Warnings: Public punishment, xenophobia, violence, murder, assassination attempt, coerced sex work, rape, torture

**Special thanks to Orbit Books for the ARC in exchange for an honest review**

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Likes

  • Characterization is on point and is honestly what captivated me the most from this story. With each character, I have very distinct opinions about them. Talyien, I love, could punch and admire beyond belief. Rai, I could throttle. Khine, I adore and hope we see more of him in the second book. From being completely repulsed by characters (seriously, I am still trying to wrap my mind around Yuebeck) to being completely smitten, Villoso does an amazing job with characterization.
  • The continued escalated tension. Each moment, when I thought Tali couldn’t get into a more challenging situation, it just continued to get worse and worse for her? And because I’m an apparent glutton for punishment, each time I was continually impressed, responding with an excited, “Yes, give me more,” even as my heart broke for Tali and continually begged, “Please, we can’t take anymore, she doesn’t deserve this.” It was a brilliant execution of tension and raising stakes.
  • The emphasis on food. This might seem like an odd one, but I couldn’t help notice the inclusion of so many different meals that not only made my own mouth water, but also just made the world come alive that much more, by showing such a wide variety of meals. I feel this is something I don’t see very often (and also called attention to it in my own head, when thinking of my own novels and how this element is lacking), so I just really appreciated this extra detail in terms of worldbuilding.

Let them speak ill of the bitch queen who brought ruin to the land with the same gilded tongue they praised the uncrowned king who was just as responsible.”

Dislikes

  • The beginning. Don’t get me wrong: that first line absolutely floored me and is one of my favorites. I’m not sure if it was just because I was coming off a romance-reading-binge or what, but it took me a little bit to get into this story and I can’t pinpoint exactly why. I think I would have liked to witness what was described firsthand, perhaps, before we jump into the recollection by Tali? Don’t get me wrong, however, this book is still killer and totally worth your time reading it.
  • Tali’s stubbornness in regards to Rayyel. This might not deserve to be listed as a dislike, especially since I can completely understand Tali’s motives, but it absolutely drove me up a wall how she is so fixated on fixing things with Rai, to to the point where she is giving everything. It’s this laser-beam type focus that became a bit exhausting towards the end, and made me want to shake her. Yet, at the same time, I can’t really blame her. Not truly. And I’ll support her until the end.
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Rating

So, no surprise that I absolutely loved this story! Many of my trusted friends and reviewers loved it, so I had high hopes going in and they did not disappoint! If you’re a fan of fantasy, you’ll want to read this. If you are fan of feeling pain thanks to what you’re reading, you’ll DEFINITELY want to read this.

I rate this book 4 gems out of 5!

Cheers.

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Categories
Books Reviews

Mini Reviews No 2

Hello, lovelies!

I promised that I’d be sprinkling in mini reviews going forward, so here is my latest batch! I hope you enjoy!

Title: Heart of Fire
Author: Bec McMaster
Publisher: Lochaber Press
Blurb: The old eddas speak of dreki—fabled creatures who haunt the depths of Iceland’s volcanoes, and steal away fair maidens.
Freyja wants none of such myths. Dreki seducing young ladies? Ha. They probably eat such foolish girls. But when the local dreki steals her last ram—costing her any chance of feeding her ill father through the winter—Freyja intends to confront the fearsome myth.
Sentenced to a life of exile from his clan, Rurik is fascinated by the furious woman who comes to claim her ram. She reeks of mysterious magic and challenges him at every step. He intends to claim the passionate firebrand, but to do so, he must take mortal form.
It’s the only time the dreki are vulnerable, and with a dragon-hunter arriving on the shores of Iceland, he can barely afford the risk—but lonely Freyja, with her elf-cursed eyes and pragmatic soul, tempts him in ways he’s never felt before. Is she the key to reclaiming his heritage? Or will she be his downfall?
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I was really excited to read from a different series by Bec McMaster, as we all know I am absolute trash for her London Steampunk and BlueBlood Conspiracy series. My Mom bought me Heart of Fire for Christmas last year and I wanted to read something quicker, after my epic Lightbringer reread, where the average book clocked in at 700+ pages.

Heart of Fire was perfect to mix it up! I hadn’t read a romance in a while and I think it’s going to make me read some more here in the future, because I just missed reading from that genre. McMaster has a way with writing steamy scenes and I enjoyed it immensely, even if I didn’t fall completely head over heels with it, like I have with her steampunk romances. But, I definitely plan to continue the series, especially since I am very intrigued about the couple we will be following in book two!

4 stars
I rated this book 4 gems out of 5!

Title: Scenes and Sequels: How to Write Page-Turning Fiction
Author: Mike Klaassen
Publisher: BookBaby
Blurb: Are you thinking about writing fiction? Writing a novel? Trying to improve a manuscript? Then you need to know all about scenes and sequels. Scenes and sequels are the one-two punch of a story that make it page-turning fiction. If you don’t know what they are and how they work, how can your tale reach its potential? Writing fiction isn’t easy, but trying to write a novel without a solid understanding of scenes and sequels will fall flat. You can learn about scenes and sequels in three ways: (1) just start writing and hope you figure it out over time, (2) read lots of books and attend a bunch of seminars, or (3) study a book devoted entirely to the subject. Mike Klaassen has already read the books and attended the seminars. Combining his copious notes with his own writing experience, he’s clarified and expanded the concepts of scenes and sequels. Save yourself a ton of time, money, and frustration with one comprehensive, concise book. Inside “Scenes and Sequels,” you’ll discover: practical definitions of scenes and sequels, the components of scenes and sequels, how scenes and sequels compare to other passages of writing, the nuances of using each, practical examples of how to use scenes and sequels, prototype scenes and sequels, how to control the pace of your fiction, how to troubleshoot a manuscript with scene-and-sequel analysis, and much, much more. Why spend countless hours doing your own research? “Scenes and Sequels: How to Write Page-Turning Fiction” is a treasure of straightforward, practical information that you can use immediately. Unlock your full writing potential with “Scenes and Sequels” today!
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This is one of the first craft books I’ve read in a while. It’s something I need to work more on and read more of (I even own a couple!), as I’d love to continue to elevate the craft aspect of my novels, while still continuing to challenge and expanding my own narrative storytelling. This novel was recommended to me by my editor and I found it to be okay. I really liked the premise of it and the idea of breaking down your novel into main scenes and then sequel scenes, but I found the tone to be a bit condescending and the actual implementation not exactly what I was looking for (actually, just talking through these ideas with my editor made ten times more sense and was more helpful than this novel, so….).

All in all, not a bad read, but not exactly my favorite, either.

3 stars
I rated this book 3 out of 5 gems!

Title: Forever Your Earl
Author: Eva Leigh
Publisher: Avon Books
Blurb: Eva Leigh makes her Avon debut with the first book in her smart and sexy Wicked Quills of London series!
Eleanor Hawke loves a good scandal. And readers of her successful gossip rag live for the exploits of her favorite subject: Daniel Balfour, the notorious Earl of Ashford. So when the earl himself marches into her office one day and invites her to experience his illicit pursuits firsthand, Eleanor is stunned. Gambling hells, phaeton races, masquerades…What more could a scandal writer want than a secret look into the life of this devilishly handsome rake?
Daniel has secrets and if The Hawk’s Eye gets wind of them, a man’s life could be at stake. And what better way to distract a gossip than by feeding her the scandal she desperately craves? But Daniel never expected the sharp mind and biting wit of the beautiful writer, and their desire for each other threatens even his best laid plans.
But when Eleanor learns the truth of his deception, Daniel will do anything to prove a romance between a commoner and an earl could really last forever.
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I have another romance author that I adore, YAY. I was drawn to this because it featured a writer as our female lead and there is no surprise that I was quite stoked for that. I really loved Eleanor’s independence and her personality and Daniel was an interesting character with a heartwarming motive (even if I was a bit confused at first and it took a little more clarification later to understand exactly what was going on). The sex scenes were fire and this book definitely kept me up until almost 2am, as most romances I enjoy are want to do. I may have also already purchased the second one in this series, as I need some more romance in my life always, because especially now, in the year of our Lord 2020.

4 stars
I rated this book 4 gems out of 5!

And that’s a wrap for my latest bit of mini-reviews! Thanks for reading and I hope you’re finding good books to escape within and let yourself take your mind off things.

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Books Reviews

Velocity Weapon

41085049. sy475 Title: Velocity Weapon

Author: Megan E. O’Keefe

Published: June by Orbit Books

Blurb: Dazzling space battles, intergalactic politics, and rogue AI collide in Velocity Weapon, the first book in this epic space opera by award-winning author Megan O’Keefe.

Sanda and Biran Greeve were siblings destined for greatness. A high-flying sergeant, Sanda has the skills to take down any enemy combatant. Biran is a savvy politician who aims to use his new political position to prevent conflict from escalating to total destruction.

However, on a routine maneuver, Sanda loses consciousness when her gunship is blown out of the sky. Instead of finding herself in friendly hands, she awakens 230 years later on a deserted enemy warship controlled by an AI who calls himself Bero. The war is lost. The star system is dead. Ada Prime and its rival Icarion have wiped each other from the universe.

Now, separated by time and space, Sanda and Biran must fight to put things right.

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**I received an ARC from Orbit Books in exchange for an honest review**

Okay, this is fucking gold.

I don’t think I can write a review that will do this book justice–that will properly explain how much I loved this book, how much it wowed me and completely blew my mind, confirming an opinion that O’Keefe is a mastermind of the craft by telling amazing, thought-provoking, important stories–but I’ll attempt.

Velocity Weapon is a powerhouse book that is completely on another level from your traditional sci-fi adventure. Not only it is a breath of fresh air, in terms of its inclusiveness and it’s treatment of creating 3D, multidimensional female characters (including our lead), but it also packs a punch that will leave you as breathless as getting spaced off a ship will–and blow your mind in half that time. It’s an intricately woven tale of adventure and intrigue that weaves a narrative of trust and facts and situations so dire, you just don’t comprehend how these characters are going to survive it.

Then, you hit page 250.

Not only does everything turn completely upside down and your complete sense of trust and understanding fly out the window, but you are also just completely blown away that O’Keefe just did that? How she so expertly–and almost unknowingly, on your part–wraps what you believe, through gorgeous prose and excellent narrative storytelling, with multiple POV, in multiple points in time, only to pull the rug out from under you and then leave you on edge for another 250 pages?

And get this:

That wasn’t even the biggest reveal.

I went from reading a chapter or two a day (thanks to my depression, NOT to the quality of this book) to reading over 100+ pages and finishing the second half of the book in two days, because I just couldn’t put it down. After I closed the book, I immediately checked my bank account to see if I could justify buying the sequel, CHAOS VECTOR, immediately (I can’t, but hopefully soon?). That’s how good this book is.

I already fell in love with O’Keefe’s work from her Scorched Continent series, but this book just takes everything up a notch. I absolutely loved Sanda and Tomas. Biran broke my heart, but I loved him, too. And Bero…well, you’ll just have to read for yourself to figure out that one. The politics were fantastic, the way the multi-POVs spanned across different timelines were delivered was impeccable. The worldbuilding was fantastic and the inclusiveness just reminded me I wished all books were written with that kind of care.

So, obviously, this book is a major five-gem read for me. If you are a fan of sci-fi, you gotta read this book. If you aren’t: well, this book might just make you become one.

5 stars
I rate this book 5 out of 5 gems!

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Categories
Books Reviews

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

27213244Title: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

Author: Becky Chambers

Published: July 2016, Harper Voyager

Blurb: Follow a motley crew on an exciting journey through space—and one adventurous young explorer who discovers the meaning of family in the far reaches of the universe—in this light-hearted debut space opera from a rising sci-fi star.

Rosemary Harper doesn’t expect much when she joins the crew of the aging Wayfarer. While the patched-up ship has seen better days, it offers her a bed, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy, and most importantly, some distance from her past. An introspective young woman who learned early to keep to herself, she’s never met anyone remotely like the ship’s diverse crew, including Sissix, the exotic reptilian pilot, chatty engineers Kizzy and Jenks who keep the ship running, and Ashby, their noble captain.

Life aboard the Wayfarer is chaotic and crazy—exactly what Rosemary wants. It’s also about to get extremely dangerous when the crew is offered the job of a lifetime. Tunneling wormholes through space to a distant planet is definitely lucrative and will keep them comfortable for years. But risking her life wasn’t part of the plan. In the far reaches of deep space, the tiny Wayfarer crew will confront a host of unexpected mishaps and thrilling adventures that force them to depend on each other. To survive, Rosemary’s got to learn how to rely on this assortment of oddballs—an experience that teaches her about love and trust, and that having a family isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the universe.

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I honestly don’t even know how to write this review, because I loved this book that fucking much.

I’d heard so many good things about it and it seemed to have some of my favorite tropes involved: found family and misfits coming together, only this time, it was in space (as opposed to the fantasy setting I’m used to seeing this trope in). It also had been claimed to be a feel good, fun story to read–and, if I ever needed to find a story that fit that description, it’s during a global pandemic.

Oh, friends. This book delivered so much more than what was promised.

I can’t describe how much I loved this book. It might be one of my favorite books of all time. It definitely made me feel good. It was so much fun to read. It was a wonderful example of the found family, misfit group trope and made me not only want to read more of it, but include that in one of my future novels.

But it was also so much more than that.

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It was gloriously diverse and so naturally so as to be refreshing; the kind of book that makes reading books with less diversity feel boring, dull and outdated, in comparison. It had a wide range of characters who I adored and just want to read all of their adventures. It showed me how to masterfully pull off multiple POVs, yet making each of them incredibility distinct and purposeful. It did an incredible job with it’s worldbuilding. It gave me comfort, as a writer, that you can have a slower build-up to the climax of a story, yet still write an incredibly enchanting and engaging narrative.

And it did something I’m not used to seeing, where it continually set up moments of tension and I’d go, “Okay, now this is the part where it all goes down hill and it loses this fun, adventure feel that I am LIVING for right now and destroys my heart. This is it.” And then, it wouldn’t be. It’d be resolved and we’d continue on our way, learning about a new culture, laughing at new jokes and interactions, becoming enamored by new characters and places all over again.

That is, until the end.

At that point, I was sitting downstairs at my kitchen table, crying into my blueberry muffin I was having for breakfast. I can’t remember the last book where I truly, properly cried, but this book? Yeah, it was more than just a single tear.

It was incredible, deserving to be an entirely different tier, all on it’s own. I loved this book and immediately bought the next two–something I never do, especially considering we’re not exactly in a wonderful financial situation, at the moment. I just loved everything about this so much and I’m so excited to continue reading. And you’d better believe I’ll read anything that Chambers writes, going forward, without hesitation.

5 stars
I rate this book 5 out of 5 gems!

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